RE: The Toddle House
During the late 1960's and early 70's the Albuquerque Toddle House was located on the south side of Central Avenue, 1/2 block east of Hermosa Street and a couple blocks from the Nob Hill shopping center at Central and Girard. It was, of course, tiny, with no more than 6 stools and no booths. The jukebox was decent.
Because it was open 24 hours and as we lived practically behind the place, I ended up there many late nights and early mornings, usually for coffee and eggs. To be honest, I do not remember much distinguishing about the food.
The sign on the wall advertising the "steak and eggs" special always intrigued me (steak for breakfast!) until I finally ordered it and discovered that it was really "burger and eggs". It was not bad and certainly not too costly.
What I DO remember (and what was most noteworthy to my friends and I) was the sideshow freakishness of the counter men and women who worked there. Every last employee(there was only one working at any given time)had some bizarre distinguishing feature: an alarming tattoo, enormous girth, advanced hirsutism, a vague air of criminality... Some, I remember, were ex-cons, not that long out of the Joint. I guess it was a fairly easy (and probably not very rewarding) place to get employment, and east Central Ave was peppered with cheap motels for transients and other people living close the outer margins.
One of the countermen would regularly read pornographic magazines at the counter, oblivious to the customers. One poor woman, who must have weighed in excess of 350 lbs worked many nights, and had only inches of clearance in her tiny workplace behind the counter. The saddest was a young guy whose right bicep tattoo read "Born Dead". The story behind the tattoo - he told it willingly -was too depressing to repeat here.
Despite the tiny size, I do not remember that there was ever more than one other customer when I was in there. Late on a rainy night, as I recovered from an evening of drinking at Okie's with my coffee and eggs, Dylan's "Desolation Row" seemed the appropriate theme song there. Years later, when I first heard a Tom Waits song, I knew that he was singing about the Albuquerque Toddle House.